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Jill Furman, a Tony Award-winning producer of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton and In the Heights, has signed on to tackle a musical stage adaptation as lead producer. Based on R.J. Palacio’s children’s book, which has been on the New York Times best-seller list for seven years in a row and has sold 16 million copies worldwide, the story follows Auggie Pullman, a boy born with facial differences who can’t blend in because he was born to stand out. The 2017 film earned $306 million worldwide.
The film was was directed by Stephen Chbosky from a screenplay by Chbosky, Steven Conrad and Jack Thorne, and starred Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay and Owen Wilson.
“I am beyond happy and grateful that Wonder is being adapted for theater by this incredible team,” said Palacio. “What I’ve always loved the most about musical theater is its timelessness, its ability to resonate around the world and across generations. That Wonder and its message of kindness is to become part of that canon for the ages is, quite literally, a dream come true.”
Added Furman: “RJ’s indelible characters leapt off the page, and I wept through the movie. I couldn’t help but feel there was a musicality to the characters’ voices and their story. At a time when ‘otherness’ is under attack, Wonder celebrates difference in a beautiful way that we should all admire and emulate.”
The move comes on the heels of Lionsgate announcing that it will bring its hit TV series Nashville to Broadway, kicking off a series of live stage productions based on high-profile Lionsgate film and TV properties.
“Wonder inspired millions of fans worldwide, and bringing it to the stage presents an exciting platform to continue to share its heart-warming message to ‘choose kind,’” said Jenefer Brown, Lionsgate senior vp global live and location-based entertainment.
Furman’s Jill Furman Prods. currently has Hamilton playing on Broadway and London’s West End as well as touring the U.S.
Additional Furman Broadway credits include Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, The Heiress, Seminar, West Side Story, The Drowsy Chaperone, Sly Fox and Fortune’s Fool. Off-Broadway, the company’s credits include Freestyle Love Supreme, On the Line and Adult Entertainment. She also received the Robert Whitehead Award for outstanding achievement in commercial theater producing in 2011.
The deal was negotiated for Lionsgate’s Brown and Eva Feder, Loeb & Loeb’s Stefan Schick and Lazarus & Harris’ Scott Lazarus.
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Taraji P. Henson